Imagination blooms on Oak Harbor garden tour

Melissa Garden and her daughter, Haley Garden, will open their garden to the community during the Oak Harbor Garden Club garden tour Saturday, July 7. A favorite spot of theirs is the koi pond surrounded by flowers and an old fire hydrant that pours water into the pond. - Rebecca Olson/Whidbey News-Times
Melissa Garden and her daughter, Haley Garden, will open their garden to the community during the Oak Harbor Garden Club garden tour Saturday, July 7. A favorite spot of theirs is the koi pond surrounded by flowers and an old fire hydrant that pours water into the pond.
— image credit: Rebecca Olson/Whidbey News-Times

Haley Garden’s garden is her childhood paradise. From a koi pond dotted with lily pads perfect for swishing feet on a warm day, to tree forts she plays in with her younger sister, to the outdoor room used for her older sister’s wedding, the Gardens’ garden is ripe with wonderful memories.

Experience their garden and six other North Whidbey beauties Saturday, July 7 during the annual Oak Harbor Garden Club Garden Tour and Tea. Enjoy tea and treats while learning tips and tricks for your own garden.

Haley, 17, and her mom, Melissa Garden, and their family have worked on the garden since moving into the home 12 years ago.

“Our yard was crooked, it was made of straw and grass,” Melissa Garden said, adding that their only tool at the time was a wheelbarrow. “It’s just work. Work that we love. It’s therapeutic.”

“Everything we’ve done we did ourselves,” she added, although not having a blank spot to start with added to the difficulty. “It’s been a learning process and we’ve loved it.”

Now, a green lawn separates the outdoor room, a wide space surrounded by bushes and benches and shaded by trees, from a greenhouse, cutting garden and raised vegetable beds. Water runs from an old fire hydrant into the koi pond, with a bench next to it from which to enjoy the burbling water, bird songs and variety of blooms.

The cutting garden is Haley Garden’s favorite area because the rainbow of brightly colored flowers make for gorgeous bouquets. Campanula flowers shaped like long bells bloom pink and purple beside vibrant orange calendula flowers. Haley Garden sometimes sells her bouquets but she often gives them away, including to a favorite teacher who retired.

“I like to make bouquets and make people happy with them,” Haley Garden said.

But her love of plants doesn’t stop at the eyes. As a member of  Oak Harbor High School’s culinary team, which took fifth place at the national competition this year, Haley Garden also likes to explore the aspect of taste.

The greenhouse is where she often goes to pick tomatoes, cucumbers and herbs. She was thrilled when her mom brought home a little Meyer lemon tree because the lemons were an ingredient in the culinary team’s award winning meal.

“I just love the smell and trying something new,” Haley Garden said, pointing out a tiny, green lemon on the tree. “I’m excited!”

All of their plants are organic and grown from seed.

“People will love to see this. Maybe it’s a doable thing,” said Judy Biddle, publicity chair for the Oak Harbor Garden Club. She added that upon seeing how the Gardens made their greenhouse work, viewers will want to go home and try it themselves.

“I hope people take out of it a learning opportunity,” Haley Garden said of garden tour visitors. She’s also looking forward to meeting the visitors and hearing their preferences and ideas for her garden.

Along with learning tips and tricks from their hard work, Melissa Garden hopes people just enjoy themselves.

“I hope people feel relaxed and peaceful,” she said.

“In the garden, I have so many memories with my cousins, eating as many fruits as we can and hanging out in the forest and having forts,” Haley Garden said. She attributes those fun times for building meaningful relationships instead of playing video games.

A unique part of their garden is the shaded haven housing Haley Garden’s and her sister’s tree forts. Trees grow tall, with stone paths leading into the forested island.

“We love playing out here, we love playing outside,” Haley Garden said.

From the fruit tree filled chicken enclosure to the bushes of sweet berries, it’s easy to see why.

“I think a garden is an extension of your house. A house is a finite number of square feet but when you have a garden, it expands your living space,” Melissa Garden said.

Tickets to the garden tour are by donation of $15.

“The hard work, creativity and generosity of the homeowners who participate in our Oak Harbor Garden Club annual Tour and Tea makes it possible for our goals for civic improvement in our community. We are grateful and inspired by them all,” Biddle said.

For details, contact



Garden Tour and Tea offers gardening tips

When: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, July 7 at seven Oak Harbor area gardens.

Purchase tickets for a $15 donation in Oak Harbor at: Bayleaf, Skagit Farmers Supply, Greenhouse Florist, Hummingbird Farm, Maillard’s Landing, Oak Harbor Chamber of Commerce; in Coupeville at Bayleaf; or contact Tina at 360-720-2562 or

Proceeds go to civic improvement for Oak Harbor.


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